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Lynn and Swampscott join forces for veterans

The town of Swampscott and city of Lynn entered into a three-year agreement to consolidate their veterans services departments.

The Lynn City Council and Swampscott Board of Selectmen both approved the inter-municipal agreement, which establishes a veterans services district for the two communities.

Under the agreement, Swampscott would pay Lynn $30,000 annually for the cost of absorbing their veterans services.

Swampscott Town Administrator Sean Fitzgerald said the town explored the possibility of aligning its veterans services with Lynn following the retirement of the town’s long-time veterans agent, Jim Schultz.

Under state law, the town is required to fill the position. Schultz was a part-time veterans agent and state law requires the position be filled as full-time based on its population of more than 12,000 residents.

State law also allows an alternative, a regional services district, which the town felt would make sense and help Swampscott meet its needs, Fitzgerald said.

Lynn Mayor Thomas M. McGee said Swampscott officials reached out to see if Lynn would be interested in consolidating services to be more efficient, but still make sure that the needs of veterans were met.

Lynn and Swampscott also have a regional dispatch agreement for emergency services of police and fire departments.

Fitzgerald said the veterans services district will improve efficiencies for the town. Although it won’t be a cost savings for Swampscott, he said it would be a cost avoidance, as hiring a full-time veterans agent would have been an additional cost of $50,000 to $100,000 annually.

McGee said there was lots of discussion related to sharing services, including with Michael Sweeney, Lynn veterans services director, who will serve as director of the district.

Through those discussions, McGee said it was determined that Lynn’s veterans office was able to handle the responsibility of taking on Swampscott’s services.

“This is really a significant step forward in terms of how we provide care and support to our veterans,” said Fitzgerald. “By working with the city of Lynn, (we) can ensure that Swampscott’s veterans are supported with outstanding programs and services that we would only be able to provide through a regional approach.”

McGee said the main office for veterans services would remain at City Hall, but there will be times where there will also be availability in Swampscott.

“The underlying piece of this is we’re happy to work together with the town of Swampscott to make sure that veterans of Lynn and Swampscott have the opportunity to get all of their needs met and get the services they expect,” McGee said. “We really feel it’s going to be a benefit to both communities, as well as veterans and their families.”

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